Saturday, October 21, 2006

New Nats Stadium & The Naming Rights

I am not a big fan of Corporate Names on Sports Facilities. Whether its FEDEX Field, M&T Bank Stadium or Verizon Center, never does a Stadium name push me toward that company's product. PETCO PARK in San Diego, I laughed to no end when I first heard about the Padres New Stadium. That's a tremendous amount of pet treats to sell, if you are going to make your sponsorship fee back on the naming rights. Really, deep down, DO THESE CORPORATIONS REALLY BELIEVE IT HELPS THEIR IMAGE AND BOTTOM DOLLAR?? Everyone I know, can't stand those corporate names.

How many times has Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami changed names? Candlestick Park in San Francisco? Even M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore was, at one time, Stadium. My favorite baseball park, that beautiful structure built in China Basin--at 24 Willie Mays Place, The Home Of The San Francisco Giants, started as PacBell Park, then SBC Park and now AT&T Park. Its ridiculous!!

Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Camden Yards, far more preferable to me. Those four ball parks evoke MEMORIES for me. Even Giants Stadium is better for me than that awful place in Landover, Maryland. Can you think of anything memorable from Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina? How about Citizen Bank Park in Philadelphia?? or Wachovia Center, right across the street, that was First Union Center Originally. Its just plain STUPID!!
Dodger Stadium--Now if someone says that name to me, I could talk all night about Koufax's Perfect Game, Vin Scully, Tommy LaSorda--it goes on and on. Why do the Cleveland Browns, still call their new Stadium, Cleveland Browns Stadium? Because Ownership realized, in the long run, Fans--the people who mean the most, in the long run--will recall fondly, moments of watching their favorite team, in their own named stadium. Its a natural fit.

Yet, it concerns me to no end that The Lerner Group will go THE CORPORATE WAY and find a sponsor for 20 some odd years to put their name on the new stadium being built on South Capitol Street. I could live with Nats Parks, but I realize that is not going to happen. Going the corporate way, In a Just World, either Walgreens Drug Store, that uses the EXACT SAME CURLY "W" would sponsor the Field, or Wegmans Grocery Store, which uses a modified Curly "W". Then, We could all call it "CURLY W" Field, Park or Stadium.

If that doesn't work, there is only one other corporate choice for me. The Nats New Stadium is being built within spitting distance of the Washington Navy Yard. If the teenage, young adult clothier, Old Navy, really had a sense of spirit--they would be contacting the Lerner's RIGHT NOW, and signing on for "THE OLD NAVY YARD".

I could live with that name for the rest of my life. Perfect, in so many ways. The Corporate Sponsorship is put away to rest, still allowing a sense of history, and, at the same time, The Nationals are able to incorporate the military, a staple of life for all of us in THE NATION'S CAPITAL!! The fit is so perfect, I just can't image someone involved with the Nats and Old Navy not already talking about this marriage.

We certainty can't have the Federal Government sponsoring the New Park. Then, during every changeover in administrations, someone would want to change the Parks Name for some Great Republican or Democrat. Of course, we all know, the Republicans would, right away, call the stadium--Ronald Reagan Field. It would be about the 1,000th building named after the Former President. There never seems to be enough things for Republicans to rename after "THE GIPPER".

Curly "W" Field or Old Navy Yard--what could be better?


Say Hey Klib said...

I wholly agree with Screech's Best Friend. I grew up going to Fenway Pard and The Boston Garden, affectionatly known as "The Gahden" as I and Rally Time Richard would say. I couln't tell you what goes on in the Fleet Center. It was going to origonally be called The Shawmut Center, until that bank got bought out. The Boston sportscasters were calleing it the Mut back then. A real name makes a sports stadium home to the fans, and helps give it a place in the community.

Say Hey Klib said...

And yes Screech's Best Friend I intentionally misspelled some words for you. Since it is low season for posts, I have to entertain you somehow!

Ben Folsom said...

We'd love Curly W field. In fact, I think it's totally appropriate.

I have a simple response to the dilemma raised in this post: I refer to stadia only by team name. Thus, in my world, there is no FedEx Field. There is only Redskins Stadium.

Farid Rushdi said...

Thanks for your post on the Beltway Boys.

I remember the first year we had double-knit, pull-over jerseys at J.E.B. Stuart; it was 1973, the year after the Pirates first introduced them. They looked great. They were blue pinstriped with "Stuart" in old english lettering. One problem, though. The horizontal striped elastic band (the thing that replaced the belt) was attached to the shirt, not the pants! It was terrible. Everytime I'd field a throw at first, or have to bend in any way, that "sand-knit" belt was halfway up my chest. Make a play, pull down the jersey. Run to first, pull down the jersey. Years later, I was watching a Star Trek "Next Generation" TV show and noticed that "Capt. Picard" did the same thing with his tunic. Each time he'd stand up, he'd have to give it a tug downward. Man, I knew what that felt like.

We didn't get to wear them all season, (thank goodness). As I remember, we were something like 0-15 and playing really bad. The coach got so mad he took away our "new" uniforms and gave them to the JV, and made us wear their older uni's (the varsity togs from the previous year). I don't recall how we did those last five games, but I do remember that the J.V. went winless the rest of the year.

Had to be the uniforms!

I think it's wonderful that there is someone else still alive that enjoyed the Senators as much as I did and have as many detailed memories as I. I thought I was the only one who lived and died with the team's every move.

I remember one first of April (1970 I think), Warner Wolf had just finished saying, "And I'm Warner Wolf" when someone ran onto the set and handed him a piece of paper. "Oh my goodness," says Wolf, "The Nationals just traded Frank Howard to the Tigers for Denny McLain!" (it was a three team trade, but I don't remember the rest). As I grabbed the phone to call my brother, he grabbed one of those cardboard signs (like he used for his pro-picks), held it up, and said "April Fools!" (the card said it too).

It's the only time in my life that I got totally suckered in an April Fool's joke.

I'd love to continue trading memories with you -- I'm sure both of us remember things that have slipped the other's (aging) memory.

Brandon said...

Don't worry, Screech. By 2008 Ben and I will have made enough money to pay for "Curly W" field.

Oh,'s only 18 months away? Well, maybe not.

I'm with you though. There is no doubt that the new stadium will have a corporate name. The question is, would you be willing to bear with it if the millions of extra dollars that comes in each year would go toward player salaries?

Screech's Best Friend said...

"Curly W" Field just RESONATES!! doesn't it. Knowing that the Lerner's are enamored with the Curly "W" and want to use it more and more, can you imagine how special that name could be? The Nats were Number 2 in MLB Merchandise Sales in 2005 and Number 4 in 2006. Everywhere I travel around this country, I see someone, everywhere, wearing the Curly W Cap. And, its not just me wearing it--for those that now I wear, some variety of a Nats Cap, EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Curly W Field is so UNIQUE, that people everywhere would recognize it. Which means, The Lerner's Product, The Washington Nationals, would have NAME RECOGNITION!! Nationwide. That's what you want to see. Recognition brings fans. Fans buy stuff.

Come on Walgreens! And, it not Wegmans, then the "W" Hotel Chain. This can work--to everybodies advantage. CURLY W FIELD!!!

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention the example of Angels Stadium. After Disney turned Anaheim Stadium back into a baseball-only park, they sold the naming rights to Edison International. However, the next owner, Arte Moreno thought that that name was bush league compared to his rivals' Dodger Stadium, so he bought back the naming rights to turn his stadium into Angels Stadium of Anaheim.

For that same reason, the Mets are not going to sell the naming rights to their new stadium, but they are going a step further. In New York, everybody refers to Yankee Stadium as THE Stadium, so the Mets park will be Mets Ballpark in hopes fans will refer to it as Mets Ballpark.

My choice for the new ballpark's name is obvious, but it's not going to happen---Lerner Field. That sounds too close to Turner Field.

Last thing before I sign off. The Orioles were able to squeeze more concessions from the Maryland Stadium Authority after the Ravens moved from Cleveland. Since the Ravens have been able to sell the naming rights to their stadium (it SHOULD be John Unitas Field at Camden Yards), I have heard talk that the Toad wants to sell the naming rights to OPACY. Stay tuned!

Anonymous said...

Great post, and I think it makes a good point. Corporate sponsorship of a stadium name is 'okay' (never ideal) if it meets two qualifications:
1. It doesn't change over the life of the deal (no PacBell to SBC to AT&T)
2. It makes sense with the city and/or area for the stadium

Busch Stadium, Miller Park and Coors Field are three corporate sponsored names that make sense with their respective teams/areas because of the histories those companies have in those towns. Too bad this town doesn't have a large beer corporation to sponsor the name. Other stadia names that seem to work in other sports are Heinz Field (in Pittsburgh) and Ford Field (in Detroit) for football and Delta Center (Salt Lake City) and United Center (Chicago) for basketball/hockey arenas. What do all those names have in common? They've been with the building since the start, and all are named for corporations that started locally or have a huge local presence.

As for your ideas, SBF, what can I say, but I agree as usual. Although I doubt Wegman's will sponsor the Washington National's stadium, as it is a family-owned company from Rochester, NY (and hopefully more likely to buy the Buffalo Bills from Ralph Wilson's estate when he passes - but that's another topic entirely). But Walgreen's (especially if they wanted to gain a foothold in the market from CVS) or W Hotels (a little too upscale, not to mention there is no W in Washington, DC) would work for Curly W Stadium.

More likely we'll get stuck with Lockheed Martin/Northrop Grumann/Boeing Stadium. Like anything else in this town, when something is up for bid, those three always seemed to end up the winners.

--Johnnie Damon

Anonymous said...

The perfect corporate sponsor for the park? Capital One Ballpark. What's in YOUR wallet??

Screech's Best Friend said...

Eddie: As funny as your Capital One Ballpark comment is, there is a distinct possibility it might come true. Capital One's National Headquarters is in Northern Virginia, Tysons Çorner, right off 123 next to The Galleria and across from Tysons One. Thanks as always for the comments.

Anonymous said...

Joking aside, the name would be appropriate because the very name of "Capital One" SOUNDS like it belongs in the Washington area. Then again, I don't think most people think of the federal government when they use FedEx to ship packages. (Did FedEx decide they weren't going to wait until Memphis got a team, or did Nashville's Titans already pick a corporate sponsor?) Still, it would be better if the Lerners kept the naming rights to themselves...

I think the most unintentionally funny stadium names were the B.O.B. (Bank One Ballpark---now Chase Field), the F.U. Center in Philly (First Union Center---now Wachovia Center) and Enron Field which (before the scandal) fans were calling Ten Run Field...